Panchayats in India


Panchayats in India are basically the institutions that are also referred to as the local government in the country and are self-sufficient. As per Article 40 of the Constitution of India, the Government of the country has to set up Panchayats in the villages so that they can act as local self-government.

Following the Balwantrai Mehta Commission report presented by the Indian Government, most of the states have adopted the organizations by the name of Panchayats to look after the welfare of the people. The basic unit of the Panchayats of India is known as the 'Gram Panchayat' or the village council that is elected by the popular voting system. The members of the gram Panchayat in India elect the village council chairs. These elected members form the 'Panchayat Samiti' or the block council, which is also a huge sub-unit under the district. The top level of authority of the entire system of Panchayat Raj in India is the "Zila Parishad". The Zila Parishad takes care of the blocks as well as the villages of India. Though the idea of the Panchayat System was introduced in India long time back, it took some time to implement the system in the villages of the country. Following the 73rd Amendment Act, 1992, which came into force in 1993, democracy was introduced at the village level. There is also one-third reservation for women in the Panchayat seats.

Funding of the Village Panchayats is an important part of the Panchayat administration. Funds for Panchayats in India are gathered from three major sources. The State Government releases funds for Panchayats after receiving recommendations of the State Finance Commission. There are also many schemes for helping the fund of the Panchayats in India, which are sponsored by the central government. Apart from these, there are many local bodies from where funds for Panchayats are generated. The Central Finance Commission also recommends grants for the village Panchayats.

Functions of Panchayats in India

There are certain functions, which are performed by the Village Panchayats of India. Some of these functions are mentioned below:
  1. Agriculture, including agricultural extension
  2. Supply of safe and clean drinking water
  3. Women and child development
  4. Adult and non-formal education
  5. Poverty alleviation programs
  6. Rural electrification, including distribution of electricity
  7. Animal husbandry, dairy and poultry
  8. Village and cottage industries
  9. Health and sanitation inclusive of primary health centers, dispensaries and hospitals
  10. Social and farm forestry
  11. Land improvement and reforms
  12. Water management and minor irrigation
  13. Public distribution system
  14. Rural housing
  15. Roads and other means of communication

For detailed information on the Local Government of India, the following links can come quite handy:
Panchayats in India
Municipalities in India


Last Updated on 1st Oct 2012